Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Precious little ones

So what do I (Renee) do during the hours our kids are in school? Well the Lord has blessed me with 60 plus kids to love on.

In Shell is an orphanage started close to 10 years ago by a single North American woman. Recently they completed a new 2 story building on the outskirts of town and are in the process of building a school.

I spend several mornings a week providing Occupational Therapy services and of course love and attention. It is amazing how kids thrive when they receive one on one attention - even if only for a brief time.

The orphanage is very well run, clean and bright. There are just a lot of kids to take care of so anyone with a few hours to spare and love for kids is welcome. Most of these kids have parents and have been "signed over" to the orphanage for a period of time, generally due to poverty or the inability to care for them due to a physical or mental handicap. Parents can visit whenever they would like - although many of them live several days walk into the jungle and cannot afford to come very often.

Currently the orphanage has a full-time national physical therapist and a month from now a missionary couple will be moving here from Holland (the country, not our fair city). She is a Speech therapist (her husband will be working with Eric) and with me on board, we will have a full team of therapists. Very exciting!

Below are some photos of a few of the precious ones I get to work with:



Thursday, February 9, 2012

Teacher and principal needed

This blog is a little different as you will see- the school where our kids are attending is in need of a teacher and principal for this upcoming school year. (2012-2013). If you know of anyone - please pass this along. Shell is a great place to live and the community is very involved in the school;


TEACHER and PRINCIPAL NEEDED!
Nate Saint Memorial School, a small K-8 school for missionaries’ children in Shell, Ecuador, needs a teacher and a principal for the 2012-2013 school year.
We typically have a staff of five teachers and average 25-35 students.
Each teacher is responsible for all course work for two grades. We require that our teachers are credentialed, and raise their own support.
We would prefer that the principal position be filled by someone with a teaching background and they would also need to raise their own support.

If you feel called to serve missionary children please contact Margie Grant at rgrant@maf.org for more information.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Mighty the cat……

What a last couple of days we have had. This time its our own fault. After my mountain trip to Daldal I came back with two guinea pigs. From an American point of view, they were rescued from being eaten. From an Ecuadorian point of view, we want to keep food as pets.

Adrianne and "Pepi"


Kevin and "Bingo"

Anyway, we went to the maintenance shop to see if we could find a guinea house for them or make one. While looking around Adrianne and I heard a faint squeak. After a little investigation we found a newborn cat (less than 1 day old). He was very small and laying in the middle of the cement floor. He was dirty and cold. We rescued him.

Mighty the cat

As it turns out, it’s not that uncommon for ferell cats to have a litter, and if they cannot support all the kittens, they pick the small one and abandon it. This was our case.

We took the little guy home and Adrianne and I warmed him up, read all about orphaned kittens on the internet, made a homemade brew to feed the kitten, got a syringe and began the process. As it turns out, it’s a really lot of work. The kitten needs to be fed every 2 hours. To enhance the fun factor, cats cannot go to the bathroom on their own. For the next 10 weeks (if he lives that long) after feeding it, you need to rub it to make it go to the bathroom. Fun Stuff!

Anyway, the first night was really rough. Adrianne slept about 20 minutes and was constantly worried about the cat. She lacked the confidence to feed it alone, so I got up with her all night.

Renee was sick this whole time. Her stomach hurt and she spent the entire day in bed. For the next three days it was crazy. Renee was sick until Monday afternoon, Joshua got sick and vomited in his bed, the cat was always needing something and WOW!

To give some relief, the neighbor girl took the cat the next night, I watched it all day Monday and another family took it last night. We stopped by a local vet who said to buy a clock that makes noise. This is suppose to remind the cat of a heartbeat and sooth it. Needless to say, every clock we looked at to buy or borrow is digital. No sound. Nothing is easy.

We tried not to give it a name until we were able to determine if it was going to live, but we could not resist. He has earned it. Whether it’s because of temperature, food, love or attention – that little and I mean little cat makes himself known. We have named him Mighty.

All the neighbors with our new pets

.........The maintenance guys just found another kitten from the same mom, but it was dead when I got to it.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Have you ever walked to 12,000 feet in mud?

I received a last minute call that I was to go visit two different mountain communities with Bruce, Alfredo, Juan ( a contractor for HCJB) and Tanya (hygiene trainer). Bruce came and picked us up in Shell and we left about 7:30 am Thursday.

We drove for 3 hours before arriving in Yanacocha. The town was about 100 families or about 700 people and they had installed a hand dug well using a large concrete pipe. The pipe was placed vertically and people climbed inside and dug out the dirt. As the dirt was removed, more sections of the pipe were added and the process continued. They had completed the project and built a pump house over the well point. Everything was very well built and the people were excited. The next phase of the project is a distribution system. This system is expected to need nearly 10 miles of hand dug ditches to being water to each community. This project is going to be one of the first projects to help raise funds for. These are very hard working people and they have a heart to complete the work they have begun.

Typical houses in Yanacocha.

As we drove to Daldal we stopped at the oldest church in Ecuador. This was built in Aug of 1534. The Spanish came to this mountain community and claimed the land for Spain. If you get time, read up on the conquistadors. It is a very sad story of enslaving the people and ravaging the land. Their history is very different from the USA. Indigenous people here have only received land ownership within the last 50 years. As I understand it, some people groups are not even full Ecuadorian citizens yet, even though they have lived here for nearly 1,000 years.

Oldest Church in Ecuador - Aug 1534

Information in the old church

In Daldal, a community of about 160 families, we spent the afternoon walking to 2 of the 4 springs the community had captured for the water supply. The trail was high, long and hard. The people had carved the trail nearly 2 kilometers into the high hills to get to this water. I was very impressed – but as it turned out – I had not seen anything yet.


That evening we ate guinea pig for dinner. It tasted like a mix of chicken and pork. The meat was very fatty and it did not help that it was deep fried. Guinea pig is called “cuye” here and is a nice delicacy. One guinea pig costs about $10 cooked, which is quite a bit considering you can get a really nice chicken dinner for about $2.00.

We slept that night in a house where the owner had left us the key and the radio blasting behind a locked door (supposedly to keep robbers away). We ended up cutting the power to the house to sleep.

Bruce (my boss) and one of the spring boxes

In the morning we ate breakfast early and began the hike to the 3rd spring site. The people said it was a long way – I should stop trying to guess what that means – but we started walking/riding local horses to the site. I really enjoyed the horses. They were friendly mountain animals that had carried heavy loads for most of their lives. They responded well to the reins and very rarely slipped, although the mud was intense. I gave my horse to Alfredo who was having a hard time walking and I walked to the site. The site, as it turned out was nearly 5 miles away for the village uphill nearly all the way. We ascended to nearly 12,000 feet when we arrived at the base station. I was exhausted, winded from the elevation and just plain whooped. I had not slept but 2 hours the night before from the new environment, and the chickens going at it at 2:30 in the morning. I am not sure whoever came up with the notions that chickens wake up with the sun, but they obviously never had a chicken.

One of the springs.


Anyway… After this very long walk, we arrived at the base station. It turns out the community had carried by horse all the materials necessary to build the spring capture to this site and then carried it on their backs to the site further up the hill. I was completely exhausted, but I was not going to let the older ladies show me up like this (as they were walking with us). We began what seemed like it “could not be that far” types of hikes. We ascended another nearly 700 feet, up a 45 degree slope or better to the site. I had to stop several times along the way to catch my breath. Needless to say the ladies beat me to the top and they carried a lunch with them for all of us. I tried to take several pictures of where we were to give perspective, but I am not sure the pictures will tell the story.

I have a very healthy respect for these people. They worked crazy hard and completed task in one week with the entire community that most Americans would think crazy to even attempt. They worked in an area that not even a horse had a chance of going to and without any equipment of any kind. They only had hand tools and a strong spirit. In the end they have captured enough water to supply all the area and they are thrilled with their systems. They should be. They captured 4 springs and hand dug the pipe, by my estimate, about 7 miles for their community.

I tried to capture the perspective, it's a hard climb. The little spec of silver in the background is the base house we "parked" our horses at. This is about half way up to the spring.

View from the spring.


My new car (sort of)

After a huge lunch of potatoes, fish and rice, we headed back to our homes. Bruce dropped Alfredo and I off in Ambato where we caught the bus home. It was a nice ride in a very nice bus, but I was dirty, smelly and ready for a shower.

On a side note, I asked the lady of the house for a guinea pig for Adrianne. She sold me two pigs for $2.50 each. I washed them up when I got home after the long car/bus ride and we presented them to her. She picked the brown one and named it “Pepi “. They boys took the white one and named it “Bingo”.

This is her laundry room (very typical)

This is her daughter.

This is her daughters bicycle.



Overall it was a good trip. It really re-set my perspective of hard work and what Gods people are capable of when they set their minds to work. I think the church and many people have lost perspective of what it’s going to take to reach the world.

This picture is not bad, we just ascended into a cloud.

As I thought I was dying climbing these hills, here is the verse that my son Joshua had this week that came to mind. I quoted it while struggling to make it to the top.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The jungle, green & mud, green & mud & more mud

On several days we went for long walks. We walked to other villages, looked in the virgin forest for more water sources and some of us got eaten alive by the flies. The flies here leave a ring around the bite with a small hole. They itch really badly and take days to heal. Two the team must have had sweet blood, because they looked like red pin cushions after a few days. I was very fortunate and was only bit about 20 times in the week.

On our first walk, we crossed what appeared to be a small, 4 foot wide path outside the village. We were informed this was a street, had a name, and defined the outer boundary of the village. The street ran in a large circle around the village and the people were not allowed to live outside of the ring road. Inside was the city, outside was the jungle. To me it looked like a small path, but it was very important to the culture. You see, the people do not see themselves as living in the jungle. Each community has streets (small walking paths) with names, neighborhoods (2 or 3 houses together) and a school with a common house. Inside the ring road is the city. Outside of it is the jungle. Each town was amazingly organized. What appeared to be at first random, was anything but random. I was very impressed with the life people lived. In general they ate well, had a school, had family close by and live in a near heaven condition. They used money, but did not need it, had goals for their children and with clean water (all three villages we visited had some sort of clean water) had a very low disease rate.

City border - edge of town (ring road)


Jungle Highway

The last place we visited was Washingtza. GPS points “S 02 02.291 – W 77 33.773”. This was a small village of 8 families. I met a new friend here named Wilmer. He wants to be a pilot someday and fly into the jungle. We had a great time chatting and sharing dreams.

In Washingtza, we stayed in a partially finished church building being built by outsiders. I am not sure if you ever read “when helping hurts” but this was a really close example to it. I need to speak to some others and to determine how much this helping has hurt, but I suspect it’s a classic textbook example. Anyway, we stayed in the partially finished church and it was way better than sleeping outside. Dry roof, reasonably clean floor and decent food: Not bad, if I do say so myself.

Church where we slept

Inside the church where we slept


This village had a spring that was protected by an HCJB team last year. The trouble is the spring does not give enough water for the community. We ended up doing lots of walking around the jungle looking for alternate sources, but none were found. We think it will be better to capture two different springs for this village and that should do it. I think this would be a great place for a well, but the people do not have the mind to put one in. Wells it turns out are not very popular in the jungle. HCJB knows of only two communities that have installed them and like them. People have been getting water from springs for so long, that a well just is not in their current mindset. Most of the time, springs are fine, but this community is a little short of water.

Location of current spring (one of 2 - the other is protected)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Bugs, soccer, and more bugs

First the soccer: One should never play soccer with the locals and expect to win

It was a great attempt. Our team played soccer against the locals at IƱayu. It was a riot. People were playing in shoes, rubber boots and bare feet. The locals, mostly young men of 25 and less, made our guys looks really bad. They must have scored 4 times more goals than us. We even re-arranged the teams to make it more fair, but it helped very little. We had a great time.

Afterwards, we all went to the local river and swam. This village has a small waterfall at the end of the runway that is really quite nice. We enjoyed the evening temperatures and had a great swim.

Are you into bugs? If you are, this is the place for you. I tried to get pictures of every bug we ran across, but we missed a few. Large spiders that eat butterflies, Bull ants (very large). The picture is from Google as my picture did not have the scale of your hand to give it depth. These bite hard and can make you very sick for several days.

Bull ant (congo ant as called here) - Bad bug - they make you very sick for 2 days if they bite you

Grasshopper type thing

Walking stick (we also found a big one nearly a foot long, but I did not get a picture)


Friendly Spider

Large snail - they eat them sometimes

Butterfly eating spider

Cool caterpillar (sometimes eaten)


More bugs…. We had a very large tarantula in our room, saw several large caterpillars and the one we did not get a picture of was the walking stick. My boss, Martin, found a walking stick nearly a foot long.

Look this up on Google Images if you like.

On a more common front, we had an obnoxious chicken that would walk into our room in Washintza in the morning and crow like the sun would never come up. He was about to be our next dinner (we wanted him to be anyway). There were several dogs, that really needed help and one had had his leg bit off last week by a wild cow. Needless to say the owner of the dog shot the cow and ate him. Lastly were the ducks. Due to the high rainfall (300 inches a year in some places) and the constantly wet environment of the jungle, people have taken to raising ducks. Ducks are disease resistant, love the water, eat plants and are easy to care for. It was not something I would have thought of right away, but a great idea.

I had to reduce some pictures for our internet connection. If you would like an original, let me know.

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